Archive for the ‘Tier 10’ Category

What’s the first thing you’d do after a five-month hiatus?

I headed out for a test drive. After picking up the Black Bruise and Keleseth’s Seducer in April, a new job and new time constraints meant I had no more time for raiding, and I decided to take a break.

When I logged in last night and checked the character pane, I saw the icons and remembered: Hey, I’ve got a pair of bad-ass fist weapons here!

Some old-school friends were starting up a late 10-man ICC run, and we ran a quick six-boss gauntlet. Here are the numbers:

Gear Score: 5784

DPS: 9772.3

Buffs: Improved Might, Kings, MotW (scroll), Fish Feast, Intellect, no flask.

For half the raid, it was an alt run, so the context may be a bit skewed. The 9777 DPS was good for second on the meter, behind a very solid Elemental Shaman friend who has a heroic weapon and the four-piece set bonus.

Which I still don’t have. But, hey, Cataclysm might be here in less than two months, so what’s the worry?

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We’re gotten some e-mail — and quite a few people searching — about Patch 3.3.5’s new raid instance, Ruby Sanctum, and gear of interest to Enhancement Shaman players.

The good news? There’s a sweet ring, the Signet of Twilight, that features AP, Crit, Hit, a ton of Agility and a yellow gem slot.

The bad news? That’s about all we know for right now. Although bits and pieces of the loot table (mostly for the 25-man version), have been pieced together by the pro data-miners over at MMO-Champion, the majority of loot drops are still a mystery. With news that Ruby Sanctum itself will be delayed (it won’t open immediately when Patch 3.3.5 drops), it’s possible we won’t have a complete picture of Halion’s loot tables for some time.

As a consolation prize, check out this Halion video from the PTR — and fair warning, like most other guild vids it’s heavy on the Eurotechno, so get ready to hit the mute button:

Last night I picked up the Frost Giant’s Cleaver from the Gunship Battle in 10-man Icecrown.

The raid was significant for a couple reasons, most especially because it was my guild’s first real progression night in many weeks, since we had cleared the first wing of Icecrown Citadel and it was our first foray into the upper reaches of Icecrown.

Our raid had been delayed for the better part of an hour, so after three attempts at Festergut — 86%, 48% and ~ 30% — we called it for the night, with plans to go back sometime during the weekend. Festergut, like Deathbringer Saurfang, is an easy fight for melee DPS, requiring almost no movement. With its short enrage timer and stand-still mechanics, from a melee perspective it’s similar to the Patchwerk fight and can serve as a good benchmark for actual DPS numbers. I plan to revisit the fight in an upcoming post, with more detail from a melee DPS perspective.

Although it’s near-impossible to look at Trade Chat on my server without seeing at least one rep farming group forming, the only Ashen Verdict rep I’ve gotten has been from actual runs, ie. going in to kill bosses. As such, I ended the night a few hundred rep shy of upgrading my ring, but all-in-all a good night.

But, yeah, the weapon: I’ve historically had terrible luck getting weapons to drop — Kel’thuzad never did drop Calamity’s Grasp for me, Anub never dropped his sweet iLevel 245 weapons, and Ulduar’s hard-mode encounters didn’t yield any weapons for me until the Masticator dropped — AFTER I had already gotten the iLevel 232 versions of Anub’s weapons. In fact, my bad luck stretches all the way back to TBC, when Najentus refused to drop the much-coveted Rising Tide.

Frost Giant's Cleaver

Frost Giant's Cleaver - Image courtesy MMO Champion

So going from an iLevel 232 mainhand weapon — the Frostblade Hatchet — to the iLevel 251 Frost Giant’s Cleaver might not be the biggest leap, but for me it’s a major DPS upgrade, with noticeable gains once I’d gotten it enchanted — mid-raid — with Berserking. That makes me a very happy Shaman.

Coming soon, we’ll have some more detailed posts on Icecrown’s second wing, and the encounters from a melee perspective. In the meantime, check out some other Stormstrike goodness:

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman Talent Specs, Now With More Fire Nova

Lord Marrowgar down! The fight, from a melee perspective

The Frozen Halls: Enhancement Shaman Gear

More than just Gear(Score): An interview with Gear Score’s developer

MMO-Champion’s most recent post is packed with Icecrown news, including some major lore-changing spoilers. Don’t click the link if you don’t want to know how things end.  Tucked in to the bottom of the post, however, is this sweet new video of Invincible, the Lich King’s mount — which has a very small chance to drop for players.

There have been other videos floating around, but this one gives a nice view of the mount from all angles and in different locations, including the Icecrown zone and Stormwind. There are clear views of Invincible’s lift-off animation, as well as its unique flying animations, which show the horse beating its wings as its legs hang below in a motion that’s distinctly different from how they move on the ground.

In the past, we’ve seen some mount blunders, with rare or expensive mounts missing animations or looking decidedly awkward when they land. But with Invincible, the design, detail and animation are all befitting a mount that will most likely be extremely rare and sought-after:

After dedicating last night to five-man craziness, with all its associated zone-in frustrations, my guild made its first foray into Icecrown Citadel tonight.

After getting our bearings on the trash (“Those big dudes appear like ninjas!”) we found ourselves face-to-face with Lord Marrowgar.

Marrowgar is based off an entirely new model, and he’s best described as half of a blue-tinged floating skeleton, with four disembodied skulls for a head and a jagged cleaver in his two bony hands. During the fight, he zooms around his chamber like Baron Harkonnen from Dune.

Lord Marrowgar

Lord Marrowgar: A Stay-Out-Of-The-Fire Check

Marrowgar doesn’t require much strategy; he’s more of a survival fight, with an emphasis on making sure players are competent and awake with a few abilities that require quick movement. There are no phases to this fight, so you can Bloodlust early — just be sure to time your Bloodlust after Bone Storm, so you don’t waste valuable uptime running away (and unable to hit) Lord Marrowgar.

From a melee perspective, the four biggest things to watch out for are:

  • Coldflame – A bright blue stream of fire on the ground, similar to any number of fights in previous raids. Where Coldflame gets a bit tricky is in its speed, and in its ability to temporarily box in a player, especially when that player’s hauling ass away from the whirlwind-esque Bone Storm.
  • Bone Storm – The aforementioned whirlwind-style ability, Bone Storm ticks every two seconds. As melee, if you’re still standing near the boss when it ticks, you’re going to get hit for about 4k on normal mode. Outside his fairly large hit box, the tick drops to 2k. It’s unlikely most melee will get more than 30 yards away from him, as we’ve got to negotiate around Coldflame, but after 30 yards Bone Storm only ticks for 800 damage. (Nice and easy for the ranged, eh?)
  • Bone Spike Graveyard – This is an impale with a three-second cast time. It targets a random raid member and ticks for 10% of the victim’s health per second, which means raid members should call out when they’ve been hit with it so DPS can break them out quickly. Any smart raid leader will have their ranged take care of it in 25-man, but if you’re short on ranged DPS in the 10-man version, it’s a good idea to have boots with a speed enchant because you’ll be spending a lot of time running back and forth between Lord Marrowgar and the players who get hit with Bone Spike Graveyard.
  • Saber Lash – This is like an amplified cleave, so your tanks are always going to be grouped up on top of each other to absorb it. However, as melee (and particularly as a squishy Enhancement Shaman) you need to keep these two things in mind: 1) Stand far back,  using Marrowgar’s wide hit box to put as much distance between you and the tanks as possible, and 2) DO NOT run to assist anyone who is standing near the tanks and takes an impale from Bone Spike Graveyard. If you do, you stand a good chance of taking a Saber Lash. Death Knights, Warriors and Ret Paladins can survive that. We cannot.

I make the latter point because I had the misfortune of taking a Saber Lash on our first attempt. A caster was hit with Bone Spike Graveyard, the tanks repositioned Marrowgar to avoid Coldflame, and suddenly I found myself with my back to Marrowgar’s axe as I tried to free my impaled guildie. On normal mode, the Saber Lash hit me for about 25k — dangerous, but survivable, for the plate-wearing melee classes, but a definite one-shot for Enhancement Shamans.

Bone Storm sounds intimidating, and on our first attempt it looked intimidating too — Marrowgar is not predictable, and he tends to change direction quickly and zoom toward a new corner of his chamber at whim. The good news is, the tick damage is relatively low on normal mode, and if you have Druids, Priests or Shamans on raid heals, topping everyone off is trivial.

Marrowgar dropped these for us tonight:

Citadel Enforcer’s Claymore

Coldwraith Bracers

Lady Deathwhisper's chamber.

Most of us were crunched for time, so we took one crack at Lady Deathwhisper before we called it for the night. Until the next episode, here’s one of the better Youtube videos detailing the Lord Marrowgar fight, with nice big text explaining the strategy and the abilities as they’re happening:

Related posts from Stormstrike:

The Frozen Halls: Enhancement Shaman Gear

Fall of the Lich King Trailer: So how easy will it be to kill Arthas?

Forge of Souls: Finally got in!

The Forge of Additional Instances Cannot Be Launched

On Patch Day, getting a crack at the new five-man dungeons was a privilege enjoyed only by those with inordinate amounts of free time. As I detailed last night, it took me 50 minutes of zoning and re-zoning, just to get into the Forge of Souls for the first time.

Things didn’t go much faster after graduating to the Pit of Saron, and by the time my group had finished that instance, it was so late — and the zoning problems were so persistent — that we ended up calling it.

Because it was Patch Day, and because — like everyone else — I was excited to see the inside of the three new five-man dungeons, I pushed aside some work, neglected a few other things and made the time to run those dungeons. Tonight? Not gonna happen. I have work, and work means deadlines, and missed deadlines mean I don’t make any money.

Of course, for a very large group of players, inventing free time was not an option, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who saw guildies and group members log off in frustration after varying amounts of time seeing nothing but “Instance not found” and “Additional instances cannot be launched.

Word around the WoW blogosphere seems to echo what I wrote last night — while there’s no doubt Blizzard increased the number of available instances, and devoted more server resources to the three new dungeons, it still wasn’t enough. And despite all the best intentions, and the folks working late into the night at Blizz HQ, that does not fare well for our favorite gaming company.

For us — the players — the short-term prognosis is we’ll be bumping into the same problems: Almost everyone who was logged on during peak hours yesterday will be back tonight, banging their heads against the same lag and zone-in issues.

Over at WoW Insider, Adam Holisky details the technical points, but also points out that Blizzard — and its GMs and CMs — could do a much better job of communicating what needs to be done, what they’re doing on their own end, and when playes can expect some relief from these server overload problems. I wholeheartedly agree:

…this is still a mess, and likely will continue during prime playing time for the immediate future. So what does Blizzard need to do to solve this? There are two primary areas focus needs to be put in.

First, the instance capacity needs to be increased. If we’re seeing this now, on a patch day, imagine what it’s going to be like when Cataclysm hits and everyone of every level of gameplay will be running instances. The game will not be enjoyable for large swaths of the player base if they can’t run dungeons, and that’s a risk Blizzard probably shouldn’t take given alternative games on the horizon.

Secondly, Blizzard PR and Community Managers need to start getting the word out about this now. There is something almost psychologically defeating about seeing this error pop up again after we were told for so long that it was going away. PR and Community need to begin an immediate and massive campaign laying out the issue, what’s being done to fix it, and how long the fix might take. They don’t need to give a date, but saying something like “in the coming weeks we’ll begin expanding instance capacity again” would be a very good thing. Just letting the entire playerbase know they’re doing something is exponentially better than what they’re doing now (which is just a few blue posts buried amongst tons of others from the past few days).”

Related posts from Stormstrike:

The Frozen Halls: Enhancement Shaman Gear

Fall of the Lich King Trailer: So how easy will it be to kill Arthas?

Forge of Souls: Finally got in!

The Forge of Additional Instances Cannot Be Launched

Here’s a round-up of Hunter Enhancement Shaman gear from Patch 3.3’s three new five-man dungeons collectively known as the Frozen Halls, as well as all the new Emblem of Frost gear we can put to good use.

Regular-mode items are iLevel 219, while heroic-mode items are iLevel 232. Items purchased with Emblems of Frost are iLevel 264. Many of the iLevel 232 gear is badly itemized — aside from lots of Armor Penetration, these pieces also feature fewer gem slots than their Trial of the Crusader equivalents, and in many cases they don’t have any gem slots.

That’s probably Blizzard’s way of placating those who go into hysterics when they feel their hard-earned gear is too easily replaced. But the gear from the three Frozen Halls wings isn’t for raiders — it’s for casuals and alts, so they can gear up quickly and join the fun in Icecrown Citadel. That said, many raiders have one or two odd pieces they haven’t replaced in a while, and there are some gems among these five-man loot drops that can fill in gaps while players compile their Icecrown wishlists. 


Forge of Souls:

[Accursed Crawling Cape]

[Eyes of Bewilderment]

Heroic:

[Nighttime]

[Essence of Suffering]

[Needle-Encrusted Scorpion]

[Seven-Fingered Claws]

Pit of Saron:

[Ring of Carnelian and Bone]

[Scabrous Zombie Leather Belt]

[Horns of the Spurned Val’kyr]

[Gondria’s Spectral Bracer]

Heroic:

[Spurned Val’kyr Shoulderguards]

[Barbed Ymirheim Choker]

[Belt of Rotted Fingernails]

[Band of Stained Souls]

[Seven-Fingered Claws]

Halls of Reflection:

[Muddied Boots of Brill]

[Frostsworn Bone Leggings]

[Hate-Forged Cleaver]

Heroic:

[Spiked Toestompers]

[Frostsworn Bone Chestpiece]

[Black Icicle]

[Hoarfrost Gauntlets]

Emblem of Frost Emblem of Frost:

Band of the Night Raven

Logsplitters

Longstrider’s Vest

Totem of the Avalanche

Herkuml War Token

Recovered Scarlet Onslaught Cape

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Enhancement Shamans in Patch 3.3: Should we respec?

Lord Marrowgar down! The fight, from a melee perspective

The Frozen Halls: Enhancement Shaman Gear

Fall of the Lich King Trailer: So how easy will it be to kill Arthas?